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  • Writer's pictureKevin Mullins

"Being" a Trainer Doesn't Make you Special

The personal training industry is full of talented, passionate, and driven individuals who are destined to make a substantial difference in the lives of those that they touch. These individuals are harder to find because they aren't trying to do E! television shows, or Instagramming every set, rep, meal, and bathroom break.

You know, they actually train, a lot, and coach, and stuff....

Sadly, there are also a lot jackasses posing as trainers who spend more time checking themselves out, flirting with anything they like, building their social following, and generally wasting time and client money. This doesn't even include other unprofessional acts such as working out with clients during the hour, eating, texting, and generally not paying a damn bit of attention.

They don't attend seminars, study at home, or even attempt to learn from the peers.

Often times these are the same trainers who are easily identifiable by their brash approach, I-already-know-everything-about-everything-ever attitude, and this amazing claim....

"I am the best trainer in the galaxy because I know top secret nuclear training formulas that will melt fat, put on endless muscle, and make you get laid 6 times a day". "None of my companions know this secret either".

Ironically, most of these trainers have barely been in the industry for a few years (or less) and haven't invested a single cent into continuining education.

They often injure clients, coach worse than a bag of rocks, and start every session by pointing you towards a treadmill while muttering "go warmup" as they text away on their brand new I-phone.

Simply put...they suck.

It isn't their overwhelming lack of experience that makes them bad either. It's their lack of humility, desire for growth, and understanding that being a "certified personal trainer" means absolutely nothing.

There is a genuine disconnect between what they "think" they are and what is actually being presented.

The industry has enough battlescars as is. We need to weed the jokers out and elevate the real fitness professionals. Let's explore the industry further, and see what we can do about it all.

The Cold-Hard Truth

Congratulations. You just became a certified personal trainer. Assuming you studied through an accredited certification that took more than just a single weekend it is safe to say that you have now acquired a basal level of information regarding the human anatomy, physiology, and the basic biochemical/biomechanical processes that allow exercise to be awesome.

You are certainly smarter on the subject than the average Joe. Yet, you know nothing. You can take your OPT model, or whatever you have had to cram into your brain the last six months and burn it. There is no one-size-fits-all clients model in training. You'll see soon enough.

Note: The OPT model is still one of the finer "programming" templates out there to base training upon; yet, even it has flaws, and a bunch of "yeah-but" arguements.

All of those exercises for individual muscles don't matter much when you realize that most of your clientele need full body mobility, activation, pattern learning, and finally the introduction.

But hey, you have passion, and as a very energetic/passionate guy myself; I say use it. Use it all. You came to this industry for a reason, and you have to believe you can change lives, and I'm all about that kind of stuff. Just point it in the right direction!

Chances are you have been working out for a few years yourself, played some sports in high school, and have served as a source of information for a few close friends while on your way. Hell, maybe you even played sports in college.

Regardless of your beginnings it is critical to remember that they are just that...your beginnings.

You can't possibly have figured out the super-secret formula for fat loss in the weeks since you passed your exam. It just doesn't work that way.

There Has to be Rationale

Now, I understand that a lot of young trainers are merely attempting to drum up business and start actually putting money in your pocket. No one wants to be broke. It really isn't easy going from zero to hero in this business. This holds even more true if you find yourself beginning in a economically challenged zip code.

Yet, treating your personal training business like a used car dealership is a quick way to be noticed for the wrong reasons. If you are constantly cutting prices, offering specials, or pushing training down people's throats than you are looking at the business backwards.

Making every conversation a sales speech, boasting about your greatness, and claiming to lift dumptrucks for pleasure are a sure-as-hell way to fail as a trainer, annoy the hell out of people, and burn every bridge in the industry.

Furthermore, don't pull a Kanye, and interrupt someone's set so you can stand on their flat bench and yell "I'mma let you finish, but I'm the greatest trainer of all time".

Because you are not. Obviously.

Another possible explanation is that this behavior is brought on by an inferiority complex when surrounded by better professionals. Essentially, arrogant trainer A feels threatened by talented trainer B, and so he attempts to sabotage, or breakdown his business, as opposed to building up his own skills.

Whether or not it is a desire to build business or an act of jealousy towards other trainers we can certainly conclude that this type of behavior is not helpful to anyone, most especially the trainer acting in such a manner. Luckily, all is not lost if you find yourself feeling self concious while reading this blog.

How to Become Special

Everyone wants to feel like they are the best at something. Kids dream about the game winning shot, or hitting the game winning home run. Adults dream about crushing board meetings, and courting the perfect spouse.

Trainers dream about earning enough respect and clout to be paid a salary that allows them to not be in the gym for sixteen hours a day and eight more on the weekends. Seriously.

If you were to pile some of the industry leaders together in the same facility and allow them to operate their businesses as they are now you would find a ton of overlap, a lot of individuality, and suprisingly, very limited competition.

There is an astounding level of respect among those who have developed their craft. They share information, profits, and hotel rooms whenever possible. It is a group-think instead of a band of mercenaries.

Let's Build a Dream Team

In a distant world, not so unlike ours...John Romaniello, Eric Cressey, Dean Somerset, Christian Thibaudeau, Tony Gentilcore, Bret Contreras, Todd Durkin and Jen Sinkler all decide to start a training gym together.

Oh and just for fun...let's drop in Louie Simmons just to make this place a jamboree of awesome.

(Side Note: If I was allowed to be the towel boy at this gym I'd be honored.)

All of the above individuals are going to share the same foundation. Sure, they may have studied at different universities, or achieved different certifications at different times, but for the most part they all agree on the standard scientific principles of exercise science.

They can all coach the ish out of the major movements, assess and address movement issues, build strength, build muscles, guide weight loss, and provide nutritional advice, emotional support, and companionship to a client in need.

They are all going to be on time, heavily educated, probably caffeinated, and one of the best professionals you've ever seen (in their own ways).

So, if they are so similiar, what sets them a part from one another?

They have all, in their many years in the industry, developed of specialized skill set that makes them one of the best, if not the best, in the industry at what they do.

Eric and Tony have really changed training for baseball athletes, while John is an industry expert on fat loss and body recomposition. Louie is an old school strength coach who does things his way, while Dean is a scientific guy who loves to optimize people's movement patterns by emphasizing core stability and hip mobility. So on...and so on...

If these coaches worked together you'd likely see that there would be very little overlap in the clientele that they work with.

In fact, they'd likely share clients with each other in an effort to make sure they provide the greatest possible service to their paying customers.

There would be no free-for-all for anything other than control of the music and access to the power rack. No one would attempt to undercut each other, or would feel the need to scream for attention.

There would be a ridiculous amount of hip thrusts, deadlifts, and bicep pumps though...

They all know the number one secret to being a great personal trainer is: Be a great trainer.

The Lesson to Learn

It is pretty simple. In order to be "the greatest coach in the galaxy" you'll need more time than it takes to pass your CPT. You'll need years of experience, trial and error, success and failure, and a whole lot of humble pie. You'll coach clients all over the map, figuratively and literally.

Never stop learning. Peers, books, blogs, studies, seminars, summits, and beyond can provide a plethora of knowledge for even the greenest trainer to grow from.

Never treat a session like "just another session". Try new cues, push yourself to grow as a trainer and allow yourself to try coaching something harder than a standing bicep curl. Sure, don't put your client and risk and try coaching something that's over your head, but don't be afraid to experiment with something in personal time while supplementing with book knowledge and application.

That's a part of the process. Eventually, you'll find your calling and pursue it with the correct amount of vigor.

Don't undercut yourself by screaming about how special you are before you've given yourself anytime to become special.

You have to EARN that right!


Keep Reading with Kevin's book - Day by Day: The Personal Trainer's Blueprint

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